Hosting Pistons, Heat Look For 7th Straight Win

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MIAMI (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Miami Heat aim to extend their season-best winning streak to seven games when they host the inconsistent Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

The Heat won just 11 games in the first half of the season before the sudden tear that continued with Friday’s 100-88 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Miami point guard Goran Dragic contributed 26 points and 11 assists in his team’s latest win and has tallied 25 or more points in three of the past five games to help fuel the hot stretch.

“We’re locked in,” shooting guard Dion Waiters told reporters after Friday’s win. “We’re having fun. Everyone is enjoying everybody else’s success. We’re just playing great basketball right now.”

The Heat dropped their first two games against Detroit earlier this season and were without Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside in the last meeting.

The Pistons are playing for the first time since Monday when they suffered a disappointing 109-104 home loss to the Sacramento Kings and coach Stan Van Gundy used the downtime to study the team’s rotation and deficiencies.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Sun (Miami)

ABOUT THE PISTONS (21-25): Van Gundy is a stickler for details and that sometimes grates on the players but he still was harping about the team allowing 37 points in the second quarter against Sacramento when players returned to practice Thursday.

“I’m trying to figure this out, watch film, look at every number available, trying to figure out — not every problem, because you can’t address everything,” Van Gundy told reporters. “It’s a matter of priorities and what we need to do to improve at both ends of the floor — with the priority for me being right now the defensive end of the floor.”

Detroit has allowed fewer than 100 points in just four of the past 15 games, winning on each of those occasions.

ABOUT THE HEAT (17-30): Whiteside (ankle) could sit out Saturday’s game as well after missing the contest against Chicago on Friday.

Whiteside’s absence was turned into a nonfactor as Willie Reed stepped in and scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

It was the third time this month the valuable Reed has scored 20 or more points when Whiteside has sat out — he twice scored 22 points while posting double-doubles in the first week of the month.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Heat won eight of the last 11 meetings with the Pistons in Miami.

2. Detroit SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was just 4-of-14 shooting (for 14 points) against Sacramento after a four-game absence because of a shoulder injury.

3. Waiters averaged 27.3 points over the past four contests.

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